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Teachable Moments

Our free "Teachable Moments" lesson plans supplement your own instructional materials, providing background information and student prompts.

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Teachable Moment #16: Fly Eyes and Whale Hearts Solving Problems Nature’s Way

From pacemakers inspired by a whale’s powerful 2,000-pound heart to improvements in computer screens courtesy of the fly, we are in a breakthrough period of innovation inspired by nature.

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Teachable Moment #15: Playing Hard, Playing Hurt: Sports Injuries on Rise, Especially for Girls.

Obesity is on the rise with American youth. And so are sports injuries. At either extreme—inactivity and activity— children are pushing their bodies far beyond healthy limits.

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Teachable Moment #14: "Traces of the Trade" PBS documentary chronicles a family that discovered the troubling connection their ancestors had to the slave trade.

Help your students explore some of the forgotten history of slavery and what it feels like when history gets personal – very personal.

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Teachable Moment #13: "Outsider" Poet Kay Ryan Goes from Poetry Club Reject to Poet Laureate

Introduce students to the creative force of the nation's newest Poet Laureate, who has come a long way from the rejection she got when she applied to the UCLA Poetry Club as a college student.

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Teachable Moment #12: Is the Internet Making Us Dumber?

Teachable Moment #12: Is the Internet Making Us Dumber?

In our "Web 2.0" world, it's easy to see some of the positive impact the Internet is having on us. Some suggest that the Internet also has deeper, more troubling individual and social effects.

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Teachable Moment #11: Bubbles, Bank Runs, and Bailouts

Teachable Moment #11: Bubbles, Bank Runs, and Bailouts

Home foreclosures. Bank bailouts. Plummeting stock prices. Are we headed for another Great Depression? Can we—should we—prevent such large-scale market failures?

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Teachable Moment #10 : Billboard Controversy Gives Lesson in Political Party History

Teachable Moment #10: Billboard Controversy Gives Lesson in Political Party History

A controversial billboard political advertisement opens a window to learning about the political parties of the United States.

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Teachable Moment #9 : Is It Easy Being Green? Zero Waste in Your Community

Teachable Moment #9: Is It Easy Being Green? Zero Waste in Your Community

Awareness is increasing about the importance of reducing waste and toxins from the environment. Explore what zero waste is and how it impacts their community.

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Teachable Moment #8 : Wondering About the New Seven (Man-Made) Wonders of the World

Teachable Moment #8: Wondering About the New Seven (Man-Made) Wonders of the World

What would you pick as the New Seven Wonders of the World? Learn about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and explore those chosen as the New Seven Wonders of the World.

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Teachable Moment #6 : Vending Machine Bans Increase in Schools Nationwide

Teachable Moment #7: Vending Machine Bans Increase in Schools Nationwide

Explore the educational, health, and financial issues related to the increasing banning of vending machines from schools.

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Teachable Moment #6 : Seventeen Years After the First, Second African American Governor Sworn In

Teachable Moment #6: Seventeen Years After the First, Second African American Governor Sworn In

Challenge your students to consider what progress has been made in racial equality. Compare and contrast the only two African American governors elected in the United States and evaluate their role in the history of civil rights.

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Teachable Moment #5 : Quebec Declared a Nation Within a United Canada

Teachable Moment #5: Quebec Declared a Nation Within a United Canada

Examine current events to explore the concepts of national identity. Consider the ways that nations respond to forces of unity and diversity as they affect order and security.

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Teachable Moment #4 : Dark Energy: Einstein's 'Biggest Blunder' Now Seems Like an Accurate Explanation

Teachable Moment #4: Dark Energy: Einstein's "Biggest Blunder" Now Seems Like an Accurate Explanation

Focus your high school students on new findings about dark energy by engaging them in research and discussion about the nature of science and of scientific inquiry.

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Teachable Moment #3 : U.S. Population Hits 3 Hundred Million

Teachable Moment #3: U.S. Population Hits 3 Hundred Million

Put mathematics, economics, and science to use by applying them to this "teachable moment". This three page lesson provides links to news reports, information resources, questions/answers, and ways to further extend the lesson.

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Teachable Moment #2 : Unknown Frost Poem Discovered

Teachable Moment #2: Unknown Frost Poem Discovered

This 5 page lesson provides background information as well as prompts and activities centered around the lost Robert Frost poem recently discovered. Exploring this lost piece of literature engages students in exploring the structure of poems and poetic devices, and includes live links to websites discussing this recent find.

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Teachable Moment #1 : Pluto Is No Longer a Planet

Teachable Moment #1: Pluto Is No Longer a Planet

This 4 page lesson provides background information along with prompts and activities to engage students in exploring this situation as an illustration of the ever-changing nature of science. This lesson plan also includes live links to various news and astronomy websites as further useful material.

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